Equipped with mattresses, blankets and portable toilets, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) will install unused buses as night shelters across the city to shield the homeless form the cold.
Six Haryana Roadway have been procured for the purpose and will be parked at Iffco Chowk, Rajiv Chowk, Khandsa road, Basai and Sheetla Mata Mandir.
“The six buses have been procured from the Haryana Roadways and converted to night shelters. Seats have been removed and wooden planks have been installed on the floor of the buses in which mattresses can be spread and makeshift beds made. Each bus will have a capacity to accommodate 25 people,” Vivek Kalia, joint commissioner of the MCG, said.
The move has been initiated despite municipal officials introducing a new night shelter and seven portable night shelters in the city over the last three months. The night shelters set up this winter can accommodate 400 people in addition to the two night shelters operating in the city.
The Red Cross estimates that there are 1,000 to 1,500 homeless people in Gurgaon.
Kalia said the three permanent night shelters at Bhim Nagar, Kanhai village and Sheetla Mata Mandir, and the seven portable cabins at Bhim Nagar (near the fire station), Kanhai village (near community centre), Sheetla Mata Mandir, Rajiv Chowk, Iffco Chowk, Sector 16 and Gurgaon railway station can accommodate over 800 people. The number of homeless people in the city is increasing and hence, buses were procured as a temporary solution, Kalia said.
“Our teams found that a large number of homeless people spend their nights at railway station, bus depots and on footpaths. The community centres at Bhim Nagar and Kanhai village have been given provisions of extra bedding to accommodate the homeless but these also get overcrowded. Hence, we were exploring alternative measures for providing night shelter relief,” Kalia said.
The MCG had used buses as night shelters in 2016 too.
The MCG has also set up a six-member committee compromising Red Cross and civic officials to monitor infrastructure and operational issues at permanent and portable night shelters. They have been directed to conduct regular checks at the night shelters and submit reports to the MCG.